Why Lowering the Risk of Cataracts Is of Critical Importance
The eye’s crystalline lens allows the eye to shift focus to always ensure whatever object you are looking at is sharp and clear. As we age, or because of certain medical conditions, protein buildup can turn the clear lens opaque, resulting in a cataract. Cataracts prevent light from directly reaching the retina, causing the light passing through the cataract to become scattered. This results in a cloudy or blurry image.
With cataracts, reading becomes a struggle and it becomes harder to identify people’s faces. We see objects in duplicate or surrounded by halos. Strong light overwhelms us. Once-vivid colors fade. We struggle to see clearly at night and must update eyeglass prescriptions more often.
While cataracts can’t be prevented, we can lower the risk by:
- Eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants
- Not smoking or drinking alcohol in excess
- Wearing sunglasses and hats to shield against ultraviolet rays
- Controlling chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure
- Regularly undergoing eye examinations
Getting a Handle on Cataracts
When it comes to cataracts, our vision is at stake. According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide and the second-leading cause of visual impairment. On this continent, the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute estimates that 50 million Americans will have cataracts by 2050, and the National Coalition for Vision Health expects 5 million Canadians to develop them by 2031.
Regular eye exams are vital to diagnose and treat cataracts. Updating prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses will help correct your vision in the short term, but they do not eliminate cataracts or their symptoms.
Your eye doctor will monitor the progression of your cataracts. If vision loss inhibits your abilities, or enjoyment of regular activities, you will most likely need cataract surgery.
During cataract surgery, the opaque lens is removed from the affected eye (or eyes) and replaced by a clear, artificial lens. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, has a very high success rate, and leads to improved vision in more than 95% of patients.
Don’t ignore cataracts. As cataracts worsen, vision worsens, making it more challenging to drive safely, read, clearly focus on a computer screen, see clearly in the distance, and live life fully. Untreated, cataracts can lead to legal blindness and eventually total blindness.
Clearly seeing loved ones, enjoying your favorite activities, and regaining your high quality of life is a far more pleasant outcome.
Dr. Alisa Thavikulwat at Vision MD Eye Doctors monitors cataract patients and will advise you on how to lower your risk of developing them. When the time comes for surgery, we will patiently discuss your surgical options. We care for patients from College Park, Glenn Dale, Bowie, Washington, D.C, and throughout MD.